Beto Pérez is a dancer, chore ographer, and the mastermind behind Zumba, a fitness program that incorporates dance and aerobic aspects with mostly Latin music. Four core rhythms are in a typical Zumba lesson: cumbia, merengue, salsa, and reggaeton.
After winning a national lambada contest in his home country of Colombia, he was accepted to one of Cali’s best academies to pursue dance, his passion. To pay his way through the program, he taught step aerobics in return. As he explained in a video with Inc., one of these classes inadvertently gave him the inspiration to create Zumba. One day, he realised that brought the wrong music tape to an aerobics class. Instead of his typical aerobics music, it had a mix of songs that he had recorded from the radio with different rhythms, like merengue and salsa.
“I put the tape in the sound system, and I turned around to my students and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, today the class is different,” he recalled. “‘I want to do something nice that you [will love].’ With this phrase, I convinced my students and [they said], ‘Okay, great.’ […] But inside, to me, I had no idea what I [would do].”
At the age of 19, he moved to Miami in search of the “American Dream” in 1999. In 2001, he convinced a fitness director to take a chance on his classes. Two years later, his methods started to gain momentum. In 2006, he founded Zumba Fitness.
Zumba classes are now taught by millions of instructors in over 160,000 locations in 185 countries.
Beto still teaches out of Miami.Tags: health and fitness, Latin America